Dear Gay Guru:
I have a fantastic friend, let’s call him Bob. Bob is a great guy–he’s very attractive, has a great job, a great condo in Hartford and a fun personality. He dresses extremely well for an insurance dude (Brooks Brothers, J. Crew, etc…) and keeps his place immaculate. I’m pretty damn sure he’s gay (as are most of our friends). He deflects any blind date we try to set him up on and has never had a real girlfriend. How do I help him to realize this, or if he has realized it, be comfortable in coming out to us?
Unfortunately, dear, my answer will seem as unexciting as the well dressed, neat-freak (maybe) gay friend you describe. While I’m sure by now you must have heard it somewhere, at the risk of sounding trite, let me say it again: every one in their own time. This is, in part, why you’ll hear the term “coming out” more often than you might hear “dragged from the closet kicking and screaming.”
At best, you can have a dangerous chat and profess “you’ll love him no matter what” hoping to invite his question about your sudden outpouring of support, so that you may confess your theory as to Bob’s sexuality. But if that’s the route that you plan to take prepare for an awkward chat, which could possibly, and most likely will, damage your friendship. Just to be extra clear, I would not advise this route. As much as I applaud how much you care about your friend, if you truly care, you’ll let it go.
But here’s what I can’t let go of: while indeed all the signs you describe make a good case that your friend knows the “secret handshake”, what if that isn’t the case? What if he is in an entirely different secret club all together? Maybe he likes women of size. Immersed in a social climate increasingly critical of obesity, perhaps Bob doesn’t want to be judged because every now and then he has a longing to bone a fatty. It’s just a “for instance” but a viable one nonetheless.
Everyone has their “freak” and the timeline for coming out about it is tricky. The sooner one can get clear of the fear and shame imposed by a couple decades of social opinion, the sooner one can be open with others about who he or she is. In the mean time, all one can really do is wait and be supportive when the day comes.
If there is cause for concern though you could always direct Bob to the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective a fabulous resource for all persons gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning or the concerned straight friends and family of same. No doubt the HGLHC will be able to steer you or your friend towards helpful information especially if, under the weight of it all, you or him become self-destructive.
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